November 19, 2003
Today, 19 November 2003, AIRIA Ltd. demonstrated a live television news service direct to an aircraft cabin during flight. AIRIA delivered BBC World news to guests on board a Boeing Business Jet during a special flight from Newcastle International Airport, UK. This milestone is the culmination of almost two years of development by the company, working with technology partners Telenor of Norway and SPCI of Canada.
The AIRIA system is the first to offer live inflight news globally, including coverage over the oceans. It uses satellites to deliver TV signals to the aircraft - the same satellites and receiving antenna that are used by the existing Inmarsat satellite telephone system already fitted onto most long-haul aircraft in service today. A single decoder unit on board decodes and transmits the TV programmes to the on board TV system.
"We have spent a lot of time working with our partners and potential clients on how best to deliver a commercially sensible live television news service. Today's flight is not just about the achievements in technology, but also about showing that we can deliver the service without expensive new antennas or satellites," said Vardhan Rajkumar, Vice President, Marketing.
He adds: "This is a simple system - installation is easy, with just one avionics box needed. We have also managed to keep the cost down to a minimum."
Trials on board the BBJ commenced in the US in the summer, following the successful ground testing of its avionics, which have been built for AIRIA by SPCI. Critical environmental tests, including DO-160 EMI/EMC and vibration were also passed to ensure reliable airborne operations and the performance of the satellite receiver was also verified under the various conditions that might be encountered in-flight. The AIRIA system uses the Inmarsat satellite network and earth stations owned and operated by Telenor to provide a global service.
The AIRIA live television system will be rolled-out on passenger aircraft starting in 2004. The existing system can deliver two channels simultaneously, direct to the aircraft. AIRIA is hoping for a strong take up among airlines as 80% of long-haul aircraft flying in commercial service have the required infrastructure to implement the system.
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